December 12, 2013


Auen Distributing of Carroll and Templeton beverage start-up Madame Mary, a company that's already built regional brand power, have signed a distribution agreement that will take the smooth, yet zesty, Bloody Mary mix into hundreds of outlets in western and central Iowa.

"First of all, we like the product," said Jim Auen, president of Auen Distributing. "That's always a plus. It's a quality product, first and foremost."

Auen's Anheuser-Busch territory includes all of Carroll, Calhoun, Crawford, Audubon and Sac counties, northern reaches of Greene County and a western part of Monona County. The distributor stocks other products in other areas as well - and can help Madame Mary reach about 250 locations, Auen said.

James and Amy Hanken, both 28, of Templeton, launched Madame Mary about a year ago with Amy's father, Gary Schoeppner.

A Marshalltown native and Coon Rapids teacher, James Hanken, the president of Madame Mary, developed a knack for self-styled cocktails while tending bar in Cedar Falls during his years at the University of Northern Iowa. For most people that would be enough.

But the entrepreneurial spirit of this southern Carroll County city caught hold. The Hankens and Schoeppner decided to take James' skills public with the launch of a Templeton-based company - Madame Mary. The company's colorful slogan: "Once you've had a madame, there's no other Mary."

Hanken took the recipe - which he refined at places like Beck's On The Hill in Cedar Falls and Volkhaus in Waterloo - to Original Juan Specialty Foods in Kansas City, Kan. That company produces and bottles Madame Mary.

The mix isn't just for the traditional Bloody Mary with vodka. Madame Mary blends well with beer and can be used as a meat marinade, Hanken said.

Hanken credits Hy-Vee Wine & Spirits in Carroll with giving the company a major first break in early 2013 by stocking the local product. It took off like wildfire.

"We've been selling a lot of bottles that way," James Hanken said.

Even before the Dec. 2 arrangement with Auen - which Hanken and Auen say is open-ended - Madame Mary's distribution extended into Audubon and Crawford counties and Des Moines, Omaha and North Platte, Neb., Dubuque and other places in Iowa.

Hanken said his near-term goal is to be a strong player in the Iowa market.

Auen's involvement will be pivotal as the long-standing Carroll business has connections with other distributors.

"We wanted to get our feet wet with them," Hanken said. "They're our first major distributor."

In 2013, Madame Mary is on pace to sell 8,0000 to 10,000 bottles of mix (typical retail price of $7). Hanken said the goal for 2014 is to triple that.

"That's probably on the low end of our estimate," Hanken said.

The company is literally a home-based business, operating out of both Hanken and Schoeppner's houses and garages - with the three principals as its only employees. But Madame Mary plans to move to a location in downtown Templeton soon.

Hanken said he would like to consolidate all aspects of the business in Templeton and add employees.

"Eventually that is the goal," Hanken said. "Templeton is the ultimate goal."

The company's website is

Madame Mary comes in both an original and spicy version.